If you ever delve into football talk with Ben Miles, expect lively conversation.
His passion for the sport quickly becomes evident, and he speaks the language fluently — which makes sense considering his bloodlines.
A 6-foot-1, 220-pound fullback who last week signed to play for Nebraska, Miles embraces the benefits of growing up as the son of former LSU coach Les Miles. Ben admires his dad's confident approach to life. And from his dad, he gained valuable insight into the recruiting process.
Ben lays out a scenario: Let's say you're a tall and ultra-talented high school defensive end. Where might you be able to attend college?
Answer: Essentially anywhere you desire.
If you're a fullback, well, options are much more limited, he says.
So, during the recruiting process, he mapped out programs that use a fullback. What's more, he thinks it was important to ask teams the right questions. For instance: What kind of plays do they run out of two-back sets? In which plays would they want him in an H-back role?
"You just want to get a realistic view of all your opportunities to compete," he says.
That sounds like something a coach's son might say, right?
The younger Miles possesses an unmistakable savvy when it comes to football, and he seemingly inherited his dad's engaging nature.
Make no mistake, Ben Miles is immensely proud to be Les Miles' son. And it seems a safe bet Les Miles is immensely proud of Ben Miles and his decision to attend Nebraska.
I asked Ben about the possibility of interviewing his dad, and he indicated that the coach would be hesitant.
"He just wants this to be my deal," Ben says.
Even back in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when Les Miles attended his son's home games at Catholic High School, he tried to remain in the background, Ben says.
By the way, Ben is a fan of his dad as both a coach and a dad.
"I'll tell you this about him," says Ben, his voice rising. "He believes in me and he believes in his players like they're supermen. He has all the faith in the world that you can do it, and that's always how it's been. I think because of it, he gets a lot of guys to make plays.
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"It's the same with me when he talks to me about football. It's like he's always 100 percent confident in what I can do and what he's doing and what his players are doing. He's going to take the field with the mindset that the other team is just going to get the stuff kicked out of them."
What an absolutely beautiful mindset.
"The greatest gift he's given me is he loves me, but he's also always taught me to never lack confidence, whether it was when I was a kid wrestling and the other kid was way bigger than me, or when I got in a fight with my older brother, or when I was a little kid participating in LSU's camp and playing with the high school kids. … If I dropped the ball and I was five years younger than everyone else, I still got the same punishment."
The best coaches are demanding, and Les Miles — his ouster at LSU in late September notwithstanding — has proven to be one of the finest. In 11-plus seasons in Baton Rouge, he won 77 percent of his games, led the Tigers to the 2007 national championship and produced 71 NFL Draft picks.
I asked Ben what he liked most about growing up with a dad who has such a high profile.
"None of the good parts were about him being high profile — that was all the bad parts," he says.
But there were perks. For instance, Ben basically grew up in the LSU football facility.
"I haven't been back there since he was released," Ben says. "But when he was coach, the players were like my older brothers, and so were the graduate assistants. I'd be in there on a Sunday until 8 or 9 at night hanging with the graduate assistants and breaking down film from Saturday's game.
"If I ever had an extra minute, I'd just go there and hang out."
He was deeply immersed in an intense football culture. As a result, he better understands what he's getting into at Nebraska — which has a culture that Bo Pelini always contended was even more intense than LSU's.
Culture aside, Miles looks forward to seeing how he fits into NU's pro-style offense.
"Coach (Danny) Langsdorf is very creative," Miles says. "He did some one-back stuff where it was a fullback, and they do quarterback counter with it. He did some trap plays with Andy Janovich. Luke (McNitt) actually lined up at tight end a couple times. There are some plays at (H-back) they would like me in, and then there are some plays at (H-back) where they need a taller body.
"That's kind of a wide view, but it sums it up."
Spoken like a true son of a coach, but Ben Miles is determined to forge his own path. That's what he did at Catholic High, where he was a captain and versatile threat as a senior for a squad that finished 10-1, losing in the state quarterfinals.
"I don't want anyone to say that anything was ever given to me," he says.
Yes, this is his deal.